Tuesday, May 26, 2009

They Have Crossed a Line

This came out from the Associated Press last week:  "A fiercely debated, nine-year investigation into Ireland's Roman
Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorized thousands of
boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades - and government
inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation."

I looked at parts of the 2,600 page report--mainly skimming the abstract and seeing how much detail went into the reports.  Although some students tried to bring to light was what happening during the worst of the abuse, the report concludes that "church officials always
shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of
self-serving secrecy."

Tough reading.  Tougher on the victims.  And I'm filled with disgust at the perpetrators, probably mostly dead now, and their highly placed protectors.

A number of years ago, I read a business book by Lawrence Miller titled, Barbarians to Bureaucrats, which spoke of the life cycle of civilizations and of business institutions. The title of that book and some of the lessons within have stayed with me. The author contended that civilizations, businesses and institutions of all kinds go through predictable cycles, moving from the entrepreneurial, i.e., "barbarian" stage, through the building and vital growth and stabilization stages to what he calls the bureaucratic stage.  This is the time where the maintenance of the institution becomes far, far more important than anything else, including ethics, creativity, and moral responsibility for the decisions being made.  At all costs, the institution itself must survive.

I would say to you that when a church, be it the huge Roman Catholic church with its millions of members and masses of wealth, or the smallest independent church with no outside connections and barely able to pay bills, has reached the point where institutional survival is the primary goal, then it is time for it to die.

I say that because Jesus spoke so clearly to this one: those who seek to save their life in this world will surely lose it.  This type of bureaucracy that says, "We must protect our own no matter what the cost to others so we can stay alive," becomes a source of huge, huge evil. 

The Roman Catholic Church is the mother church to my own denomination, The United Methodist Church.  We've both got gigantic institutional problems.  But the all-male Roman Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals and ultimately the Pope hold considerably more power over their church members than do the male and female clergy of The United Methodist Church.  The powers that run the Roman Catholic Church have stepped over a line.  They have said, by action and deed, that it is far, far more important to protect evil within their midst than protect the innocent child under their care. 

Not long ago, a young girl in a South American country, nine years old, was raped by her stepfather and found to be pregnant with twins.  After agonizing consultation, her mother and her doctor decided that the 80 pound child could not possibly carry that pregnancy to term without extreme harm or possibly death, and an abortion was performed.  The Roman Catholic hierarchy promptly excommunicated the mother and the physician, while the rapacious and evil step-father was not condemned, for his sin was far less serious in the eyes of the so called holy men who make such decisions. 

A line has been crossed, and it is time for all to say, "This has gone too far."  Those who make such decisions will face far harsher judgment from God than my own censure, of that I am sure.  But any organization that declares itself in any way connected to a holy and righteous God and then systematically destroys the innocence of children while patting the perps on the back has lost its way. 

And we wonder why the church is losing its influence. 

No comments: